Are you looking to expand your perennial gardens with fresh new plants for the summer? Look no further! We’ve curated a list of our Top 7 Summer Perennial Must-Haves to give your garden beautiful season-long color and interest.
  1. Perennial Hibiscus – Show-stopping dinner plate-sized blooms in red, pink, white, including varieties that mix each color on every flower. Create your own backyard tropical paradise!
  2. Coneflowers – This is THE classic native flower. It comes in lots of colors including in pink, neon pink, yellow, red, white, and even orange. Plus, it blooms on repeat.
  3. Lavender – This is a super fragrant choice for that sunny, sandy, summer beach scene with lots of long-lasting flowers.
  4. Coreopsis – A lacy, airy flower that reblooms with ease in the heat of summer. Keep them dry and hot for best results.
  5. Daylily – This indestructible rebloomer does best along roadsides, walkways, and sunny hot locales everywhere.
  6. False Sunflower – You can get tons of long-lasting color from this tall, narrow plant that loves to bake in the afternoon sun.
  7. Black-eyed Susan – These bright yellow flowers bridge the gap between summer vacation and football season. Bring the summer to a close and ring in autumn all in one great plant.

Part of the reason why people can be so nervous to plant this time of the year is the heat! To put your mind at ease, why not bring on summer with these sun-loving, and heat-tolerant annuals!

Pentas – This is the best annual pollinator! if you have a butterfly garden, this is a must-have. It produces a large cluster of flowers that butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds just love.


Gazanias – Produces large vibrant flowers, which love to dry out in between watering.


Geraniums – An old favorite that’s drought tolerant and loves the summer heat.


Persian shield – A dark purple foliage plant with a surprisingly dark purple flower.


Portulaca – A great drought tolerant plant, that’s also highly recommended as a cemetery plant.

Lantana – It produces bright clusters of flowers that thrive on neglect. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this plant.


Heliotrope – A fragrant delight, with a deliciously sweet vanilla scent.


Evolvulus – This true blue flower loves extreme heat and summer sun.


Angelonia – A great thriller plant to add to your summer containers. It’s quite fragrant and produces color from head to toe.


Scaevola – A fan-type flower, that’s also super tough. It tolerates neglect and bounces right back.


Cuphea vermillionare – Hummingbird alert! This orange cigar plant is a must-have for any hummingbird lover to have in their garden.

stacey tips art 1I know it’s getting very hot and humid in Connecticut but there are still things to do in the garden. Don’t forget about the flowers that are performing beautifully for you in spite of the heat, your potted annuals that are putting on a show all summer, the roses that continue to climb even with the sun blazing down on them, your lawn that could use a little summer boost, and your veggie garden that is getting ready to burst with fresh food for the family table. They need you; so put on your coolest clothes, some sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and fill up your water bottle with ice-cold water. You can do this!!



Mulch will help keep your plants cool, hold in moisture, & keep weeds from stealing the plant’s water. A 3-inch thick layer is perfect. Mainely Mulch (chopped hay) is a perfect choice for your veggie garden.


An inch or 2 of compost spread on top of the soil around plants will help to hold in moisture and replenish plant nutrients. Try the Shrimp & Seaweed Compost by Fafard. Shrimp is great at retaining moisture.


What a great idea! Soaker hoses are perfect for trees, shrubs, perennials, and veggies. You can turn them on and forget about them for a few hours. A slow drip or trickle when watering this time of the year is perfect. Plants establish a deeper root system this way. Watering plants at the base, as opposed to overhead, will really reduce disease problems and summer scorch.


There are so many fertilizer choices that would be appropriate for this time of the year but I am going to focus on 2…Van Wilgen’s Organic Fish & Seaweed and Van Wilgen’s Organic Root Boost. WHAT IS ROOT BOOST YOU ASK?!

I am so excited about this new Van Wilgen’s fertilizer. It really is awesome. You have to try it. It is great for any time of the year but I really love it when the summer heat kicks into high gear. It will never burn a plant, even in the worst heat, but it will definitely enhance a plant’s vigor. It is filled with every type of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and element you can imagine. Use it dry to establish a new plant or transplant one. Use it mixed with water to fertilize the foliage and the soil on a regular basis. Watch your plants thrive with Root Boost during the summer months.

Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed is great to use with Root Boost or alone. It is a rich fertilizer that feeds, helps plants retain moisture, and keeps them disease-resistant. A little smelly but I love it!

Your lawn will greatly benefit from a straight fertilizer application this time of the year. Use Greenview’s Lawn Food, Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food, or Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer with iron. Throw in a bag of Fast Acting Iron by Encap. Iron is a little trick lawn companies use to help keep your lawn green through the summer months.

Don’t forget to do Grub control. Grubs will start eating the roots of your lawn in August. Apply Bayer’s Season Long Grub Control now. Water it in and you will be set for the rest of the year.

There are so many other little tricks for the garden in the summer heat but I do not want to thoroughly exhaust you. Wait for the sun to start going down, fertilizer in one hand, hose in the other, and go visit your plants. Don’t forget your drink!

lphenomenalWith the recent extended period of dry weather, I thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight some of our Van Wilgen Grown, drought-tolerant perennials. While during the planting period these plants require water, one established these plants can survive on minimal supplemental water.
English Lavender -Lavender is a great drought perennial. It really prefers the driest soil possible. We carry a variety of sizes and these plants are extremely fragrant that also make a great cut flower.
Sedum – These plants are commonly known as stonecrop. They typically grow between 12-18″ tall and will bloom in late summer through early fall. These plants are excellent pollinators for bees and butterflies. We have several different varieties to choose from and their flower color range from different shades of pink. It is a great plant for any fall garden.
Sempervivum – These plants are commonly known as Hens and Chicks. They are extremely drought tolerant and look just like desert succulents. They spread over time hence giving them their name of Hens and Chicks. We carry a cool line of sempervivums that are called Chick Charms which come in an array of bright colors.
Artemisia – These plants are commonly known as wormwood. They have silvery soft foliage that forms a great mound in the garden. They will grow 6-12″ tall and 18-24″ wide. They look great when planted in a mass in a border or cottage garden.
This is a small sampling of our drought-tolerant perennials. I encourage you to come to visit our garden center to see our full line of plants and see what would be the best fit for your garden!



(Annual plant care in containers)

Push your annuals to the maximum this year. They can handle it. I promise! We get to enjoy annual flowers for such a short period of time so let’s get the most out of them. Darlene in the greenhouse put together a top 10 list of her annual favorites and it is important that we take good care of the special choices she made or any annual you fancy. Annual flowers in pots are such a treat because they bloom for us practically every day. We get to sit out on our patios, lounge in our chairs, dine on our decks surrounded by beautiful patio annuals, filled with gorgeous blooms, in any color you choose. It is definitely ok to lounge and enjoy. In fact, I encourage it any chance we get. Just don’t relax so much that you completely forget to take care of those gorgeous potted annuals! Remember, plant care is always a little bit of a give-and-take relationship. We give our plants a little love and attention and they give us a whole lot in return.

Let’s show our annuals a little TLC when we take them home from the nursery. Billy P. and the rest of the Van Wilgen’s growing team give them so much love in our growing department. We need to continue to spread the love and care to them when we plant them into our containers at home.

The TLC begins with the soil you use to plant your lovely annuals in. Use a well-draining, fresh, light potting soil such as our Van Wilgen’s Professional Potting Mix. It is just the right consistency for your plants to thrive. Place a layer of rocks at the bottom of your pot to help with drainage and fill the pot up with new soil. Be sure your pot has a good drainage hole in it too. If you have a really large pot and using rocks just makes it too heavy for you, cheat and throw some empty plastic bottles you have from the recycle bin into the bottom of the container. They will add some bulk to the bottom of the large pot and still allow drainage without the weight. If you have some soil in the pots from last year, it is okay to keep some of it but not all. You really need to refresh last year’s soil with some new potting mix. Last year’s annuals most likely sucked the nutrients out of it.

I highly recommend adding some Soil Moist into the potting soil. We have a very cool Soil Moist that has Mycorrhiza in it. Mycorrhiza is this awesome beneficial bacteria that attaches to the roots of the annual plants, allowing them to absorb more water and nutrients. The Soil Moist is most important for helping the pots retain moisture just in case you get a little busy and forget to water one day. If you use our Van Wilgen’s Container Mix, the Soil Moist and fertilizer are already built into it…3 steps in one!

Next comes the fertilizer. I cannot stress enough how important it is to fertilize your annuals in containers. We water our pots so often that the nutrients leach out quickly. Begin by mixing in Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food. This food serves as a good base for planting because it feeds slowly over a long period of time. Use the slow-release food every 2 months in your containers. Don’t stop there! Now it is time to push them to the maximum. Remember, annuals can handle it. Use VW Bloom Booster. The Bloom Booster is loaded with phosphorus and pushes tons of blooms. Use the Bloom Booster every 2 weeks through the season. Why the heck not?!

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Do not forget the basics such as water, sun, and dead-heading. No matter how good the soil is or how often you fertilize, without the basics, your annuals will not thrive. Be sure to water your annual pots daily. If the temperatures get above 85 degrees, you will need to water those pots two times per day. Don’t forget the sun. The annuals on Darlene’s top 10 list need full sun to give you the bloom you desire. Dead-heading is key to keep them looking sharp and perky.

Give a little to your annuals and you will get a whole lot of flowers and joy in return.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Annuals from Darlene’s top 10 list or any that you like

*Van Wilgen’s Professional Potting Mix or Container Mix

*Soil Moist

*Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food

*Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster